We're discovering answers to this question at Design Thinking @ College of Design in our work and events focused on design thinking. 

 

Design Intersections 2012 was an exploration of how education in business and design intersect in in the work of two schools, The Kaospilot in Aarhus, Denmark and Knowmads in The Netherlands. It included workshop in collaboration with 4Front focused on making the Twin Cities a hub of creativity and innovation. 

 

Working with City of Minneapolis/Hennepin County Office to End Homelessness we hosted a series of design thinking workshops in 2012 with staff, community stakeholders and shelter guests around the question of improving the single adult shelter system access and delivery of services. An earlier design thinking application for Hennepin County was around the design of an interactive waiting space for families using the Juvenile Justice Center waiting rooms.

 

We also began a long-term collaboration with the College of Education's Jandris Center, Midwest Higher Energy Compact (MHEC) - the Higher Ed Redesign Initiative - taking on questions of how to redesign higher education and how design thinking might be used in leadership development for mid-career higher education administrators and creatives interested in transforming higher education.

 

Another exploration underway is how design thinking might be used in decision-making and action around sustainability. In a series of projects (one of them funded by the University of Minnesota's Center for Integrative Leadership) we have been working with U of M Extension's Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and have applied design thinking in communities in North Dakota, South Dakota and greater Minnesota around the question of developing local and sustainable foods viability in those communities. We're also applying design thinking to topics such as clean energy, natural resources, sustainable tourism with promising results.

 

What are we learning?

One: an obvious thing - not everyone is familiar with the design process and yet everyone seems to benefit from experiencing it.


Two: design thinking triggers creativity and out-of-the-box thinking and takes problem solving way beyond traditional brainstorming.


Three: design thinking can address the needs of our times in at least two ways - enhancing individual creativity as well as leading groups of people to design their way through systemic challenges they are seeking to solve and transcend.

 

Want us to collaborate with you on a problem your trying to solve? Contact us at designthinking@umn.edu!